IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

SEPA, Efficiency, and Payment Card Competition


  • Wilko Bolt
  • Heiko Schmiedel


This paper analyzes the welfare implications of creating a Single Euro Payments Area. We study the effects of increased network compatibility and payment scale economies on consumer and merchant card fees and its impact on card usage. In particular, we model competition among debit cards and between debit and credit cards. We show that competitive pressures dampen merchant fees and increase total card acceptance. The paper argues that there is room for multilateral interchange fee arrangements to achieve optimal consumer and merchant fees, taking safety, income uncertainty, default risk, merchant's pricing power, and the avoided cost of cash at the retailers side into account. Consumers and merchants are likely to benefit the most from the creation of SEPA when sufficient payment card competition alleviates potential monopolistic tendencies. Key Words: SEPA, card network competition, optimal pricing, economic welfare

Suggested Citation

  • Wilko Bolt & Heiko Schmiedel, 2010. "SEPA, Efficiency, and Payment Card Competition," DNB Working Papers 239, Netherlands Central Bank, Research Department.
  • Handle: RePEc:dnb:dnbwpp:239

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Graeme Guthrie & Julian Wright, 2003. "Competing Payment Schemes," Departmental Working Papers wp0311, National University of Singapore, Department of Economics.
    2. Schmalensee, Richard, 2002. "Payment Systems and Interchange Fees," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 50(2), pages 103-122, June.
    3. Iftekhar Hasan & Heiko Schmiedel & Liang Song, 2012. "Returns to Retail Banking and Payments," Journal of Financial Services Research, Springer;Western Finance Association, vol. 41(3), pages 163-195, June.
    4. Mark Armstrong, 2006. "Competition in two‐sided markets," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 37(3), pages 668-691, September.
    5. Chakravorti Sujit & Roson Roberto, 2006. "Platform Competition in Two-Sided Markets: The Case of Payment Networks," Review of Network Economics, De Gruyter, vol. 5(1), pages 1-25, March.
    6. Heiko Schmiedel, 2007. "The economic impact of the Single Euro Payments Area," Occasional Paper Series 71, European Central Bank.
    7. Wright, Julian, 2003. "Optimal card payment systems," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 47(4), pages 587-612, August.
    8. Beijnen, Christine & Bolt, Wilko, 2009. "Size matters: Economies of scale in European payments processing," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 33(2), pages 203-210, February.
    9. ?zlem Bedre-Defolie & Emilio Calvano, 2013. "Pricing Payment Cards," American Economic Journal: Microeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 5(3), pages 206-231, August.
    10. Fernando Alvarez & Francesco Lippi, 2009. "Financial Innovation and the Transactions Demand for Cash," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 77(2), pages 363-402, March.
    11. Baxter, William F, 1983. "Bank Interchange of Transactional Paper: Legal and Economic Perspectives," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 26(3), pages 541-588, October.
    12. Guido K. Schaefer, 2008. "An Economic Analysis of the Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA)," FIW Working Paper series 011, FIW.
    13. Wilko Bolt & Sujit Chakravorti, 2008. "Economics of payment cards: a status report," Economic Perspectives, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, issue Q IV, pages 15-27.
    14. W. Bolt, 2003. "Retail Payments in the Netherlands: some Facts and Some Theory," WO Research Memoranda (discontinued) 722, Netherlands Central Bank, Research Department.
    15. James J. McAndrews & Zhu Wang, 2006. "Microfoundations of two-sided markets: the payment card example," Payments System Research Working Paper PSR WP 06-01, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City.
    16. Gene Amromin & Sujit Chakravorti, 2009. "Whither Loose Change? The Diminishing Demand for Small-Denomination Currency," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 41(2-3), pages 315-335, March.
    17. Julian Wright, 2004. "The Determinants of Optimal Interchange Fees in Payment Systems," Journal of Industrial Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 52(1), pages 1-26, March.
    18. Bolt Wilko & Humphrey David, 2007. "Payment Network Scale Economies, SEPA, and Cash Replacement," Review of Network Economics, De Gruyter, vol. 6(4), pages 1-21, December.
    19. Kemppainen, Kari, 2008. "Integrating European retail payment systems : some economics of SEPA," Research Discussion Papers 22/2008, Bank of Finland.
    20. Wilko Bolt & Sujit Chakravorti, 2008. "Consumer Choice and Merchant Acceptance of Payment Media," DNB Working Papers 197, Netherlands Central Bank, Research Department.
    21. Chakravorti, Sujit & To, Ted, 2007. "A theory of credit cards," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 25(3), pages 583-595, June.
    22. repec:rje:randje:v:37:y:2006:3:p:645-667 is not listed on IDEAS
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item


    SEPA; card network competition; optimal pricing; economic welfare;

    JEL classification:

    • L11 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Production, Pricing, and Market Structure; Size Distribution of Firms
    • G21 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Banks; Other Depository Institutions; Micro Finance Institutions; Mortgages
    • D53 - Microeconomics - - General Equilibrium and Disequilibrium - - - Financial Markets

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:dnb:dnbwpp:239. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Rob Vet). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.